Two para-athletes from Ayrshire have been tasked with coaching Scotland’s next generation of boccia stars.
Brothers Scott and Jamie McCowan, from Dundonald, have joined Scottish Disability Sport’s (SDS) two-year volunteer apprenticeship scheme.
This opportunity is part of Sportscotland’s Coaching Futures programme, which aims to increase the supply of world-class local coaches and retain sport-specific knowledge within Scottish sport.
Scott, 30, and Jamie, 27, former students of Dundonald Primary School and Marr College, know a thing or two about boccia, having represented Scotland and the UK team at the highest level.
Scott is a three-time Paralympic, having represented Paralympics GB at three consecutive Paralympic Games.
He narrowly missed a bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 in the BC3 individual competition in what was his best result.
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But he has won medals at European and world level and is a four-time British champion.
Scott would like to move into performance training when he retires from the sport and the SDS program will support this process.
He said: “I am delighted to be part of the Coaching Futures program.
“It was always my intention to become a coach at the end of my playing career and it allows me to develop and acquire the required skills while remaining competitive.
“It means I can pass on my knowledge to the next generation whilst trying to be successful representing Scottish Boccia and Boccia UK.
“As a result, I should hopefully be a better coach by the end of my playing career, which can only be good for the development of future athletes. I can’t wait to get started!
Jamie is a two-time Paralympic, having competed at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
He is also a double European champion, having obtained this distinction in pairs and individually, in two rankings (BC4 and BC3).
He was also crowned British champion twice, as BC4 and then as BC3.
Jamie aspires to compete in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in what will be his last before moving into performance coaching.
He said: “This role means a lot to me as it will provide me with valuable coaching experience as well as an opportunity to give something back to the sport.”
In total, SDS will have four apprentice coaches; the others being Peter McGuire, a former Paralympian and Stephen McGuire, a three-time Paralympian.
An SDS spokesperson said: “The introduction of Coaching Futures apprentices, with exceptional technical knowledge of the sport, will provide more focused training opportunities for our talented players.
“This intervention will help Scottish Boccia bridge the coaching gap between home country level and the full-time Boccia UK programme.
“Furthermore, by developing these coaches now, it will positively shape the future of high performance boccia coaching in Scotland.”
Boccia is a precision sport, like boules and petanque, for athletes with severe physical disabilities. It has been a Paralympic sport since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Great Britain won a gold medal that year.
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